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Friday, 30 May 2014

A day on the bike

For today, I found a series of caches along a disused railway, and then another series on a byway. That means, no problems using the bike! No lifts, and probably a good terrain.

I nearly aborted the mission. There were serious problems on the M25, two sections were closed. I would be going on the M4, and my usual route to get to the M4, doesn't use the M25. But when the M25 is closed, you can expect a lot of traffic on all other roads.

So when I got to the Amersham end of the A355, I saw a traffic jam. There's never a traffic jam there. But the A355 is an 8 mile run to the M40, and maybe the M25 traffic had diverted that way? I nearly turned round and went home, but I didn't, and it turned out to be not nearly as bad as it looked. I was delayed by about five minutes on the A355 going to the M4, not a big deal.

I tried a couple of experiments. After I went down the disused railway, I came back along the road. I usually run the bike on 8S (29.6 volts) but for the return journey, I used 10S (37 volts), which gives it a bit more pep, nice when I'm in a lot of traffic. Then, for the afternoon run, because I'd used so much battery in the morning, I loaded up my old heavy 7S (25.9 volt) batteries, with three of them running in parallel (I can't use just one, because the battery management system cuts out when I give the bike full throttle, because the load is too great, but by running two or more in parallel, I divide the load). So I ran on three different voltages today. The usual blobmeter that e-bikes have would have been seriously useless, but I run a digital voltmeter, so I had meaningful readings of my battery condition all the time.

This was a bit unexpected.


I had a bit of a terrain problem at one point, when I mistook a gallop for a bridleway. It's an easy mistake to make; you see hoofprints on both. But a gallop is very springy, I suppose horses like that ... but bikes don't, it was hard work. And then I realised my mistake, and took the bridleway several yards away, and that was much better.

44 caches found, one DNF.

Technical support scam, part two

Shane didn't call back yesterday, even though he said he would. But he did call back today. I wasn't in.

I was out caching. I was expecting him to call yesterday, not today, and we'll have a long discussion on that when I talk to him next.

Ladysolly answered the phone, but she didn't say who she was, which is just as well, because I told him I live alone. I'll tell him that she's my cleaner. Or cook. He tried to get my mobile number out of her, but she said that she didn't know if I had a mobile or not. Well, why would she, she's only the cleaner. Or maybe she's the cook.

So, the good news is that he hasn't given up. Nor would I expect him to; from his point of view, I have a credit card loaded with £119 waiting for him. Imagine his disappointment when I tell him that actually, the post office doesn't do credit cards (although I've been told that they do, but remember, this is my imaginary post office) so I got a postal order instead, which is just as good, because I can post it to you.

And your address is ... ?

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Technical support scam

I was phoned today by someone running a tech support scam. His idea is that he'll get me to run the "event viewer" on my computer and then point out issues that every computer has every day and he'll pretend that they are nasty symptoms of a nasty virus. Then, he hopes, I'll use a RAT (remote administration tool) that lets him take control of my computer, telling me it's to deal with the problem - actually, so that he can install malware on my computer.

My idea is that I'm going to waste an hour of his time. Maybe more.

So, he started off by talking me through getting up the "run" box on my windows computer, and running eventvwr (Events Viewer). So I typed what he said, and pressed enter. "What does it say now?" he asked. "The computer is rebooting", I replied, in a tone of voice that said that I thought this was normal, which of course it isn't.

All this is, of course, happening in my imagination. But I'm giving him an accurate description of what might happen if I actually did what he asked.

So then I made him wait three minutes "This computer always takes a long time to boot", and we tried it again. I told him "It's rebooting" again. Then he talked me through going to the web site "www.teamviewer.com". So I told him it's rebooting again. He tried "support.me". Another reboot, and remember, each reboot takes three minutes. So then he got a bit fancy, and we brought up the run box again and tried "iexplore www.ammyy.com", and I told him it's rebooting again.

So then he told me to switch the computer off, hold down the F8 key, and switch the power on. What that should do, is bring up the "Advanced boot menu". But what it actually did, was elicit the explanation from me that the keyboard and power switch were too far apart, I couldn't reach both. Hmmm. A bit of an impasse, I don't think he'd encountered this before.

So I suggested that I move the computer. He thought that was a good idea, so I told him that this would take me a few minutes, as I'd have to move the computer. He held on. I did suggest that I could call him back, but he declined that offer.

After several minutes (I had him on speaker while I got on with some stuff I was doing) he came to life, and suggested that I just move the keyboard. "Good idea," I said, "I'll put the computer back and just move the keyboard" and he was back on hold for several more minutes. Eventually, I said "OK, I have the keyboard near the power switch."

He talked me though switching off, unplugging, finger tapping F8, plug in, still tapping F8, switch on, still tapping F8, And he asked me what I could see on the computer screen. And then the phone went blank.

OK, I thought, he's given up. So, after a few minutes, I hung up.

But he hadn't given up! He called me back, ten minutes later. A glutton for punishment. I told him that I had thought I'd lost him, and I'd put everything back the way it was before.  And so he talked me through moving the keyboard to be near the power switch again. While I was doing that, I asked him why he'd gone blank. "So,e technical problem," he said. "Oh," I said, "maybe you have a virus." Silence from his end. "That was a joke," I explained.

Now you have to imagine the situation (which is entirely imaginary in the first place). I have a power switch, a keyboard, a screen and a telephone. And these four items are in potentially different places. Now I have the keyboard near the power switch. But the telephone isn't near that.

So, I'm switching off, unplugging, tapping F8,  switching on, back to the phone. "What do you see?" "It's a black screen". "Keep on typing F8" "OK, I'll do that." Long wait ... "What do you see?" "The screen is still black." "Still black?" "Yes. Should I have plugged it in?"

He's so patient! "No problem, yes, plug it in." "Sorry, I forgot to plug it back in before." "Yes, plug it in."

So I did that, and came back to the phone. "Now you need to turn it off and on again, same process". Oops, he forgot to tell me to do the F8 thing. So, I did that ... without doing the F8 thing ...

He's not so patient now. "Sir, I told you ....!" Yes, he did, I must be stupid or something. "Turn it off again!!" So I did. "Now you need to tap the F8 key and turn the computer on." He's calmed down now.  So I said "OK, I'll do that" and left him hanging again. I can hear him now, asking if I'm done ... I'll talk with him now ...

So, I can see "Advanced boot options". "You see the arrow keys?" "Yes". Use the arrow keys to move down." "I can't reach them" "What?" "I'm on the phone, I can't reach the keyboard from here, because I moved to to where the power is." It's getting hard not to laugh.

"So move the keyboard back!" "OK"

And, of course, I had to power off to move thngs back, so we're back were we started. He is *so* patient.

So, he got me to bring up the run box, and "iexplore www.ammyy.com". And I told him that the computer is rebooting. Well, that's no surprise, that's what we did before.

At this point, he heard me typing while the computer was, supposedly, rebooting. "Don't use the keyboard while the computer is rebooting!" I told him that I was using a typewriter. He didn't seem surprised. I asked him if it was safe to use the typewriter. He explained that it was a completely different device, so not a problem.

So, when the computer finished rebooting (in my imagination), he asked me what I saw. So I read out a list of icons, and he asked me to open "internet Explorer". And put in "www.support.me". "It's rebooting" I said.

And I was writing all this up in this blog, and he could hear the typing, and chided me about this "Please don't use your typewriter while we're doing this, it's so important." But I want to write this up while it's happeneing, otherwise I won't remember it all. I didn't tell him that.

So when it had finished booting, he asked me if the computer worked, How do I use the internet? So I started up Internet Explorer, and told him I saw the Google page. He told me to search for ""support.me" and we diddled around with that.  He asked me what I saw, and I said "Logmein123.com" and "support ME" and "Support.me scam", and you'd think that the last one might have flustered him a bit, but it didn't.  "Double click in the first one". He means single click, and I did that.

"What so you see?" so I read out what was on the screen "Logmeinrescue" and "support connection" and "start download". So he told me to click on "support connection", but actually that isn't a link, so nothing happened, and I told him "Nothing happened". "Go back to the previous page". So I did, and that's Google again. We went back and forth on this for a while, and then I rebooted again (in my imagination), and when it came back, he told me to use google again to search for "showmypc.com"

I hadn't realised that there were so many legitimate RATs (remote access tools). And all of them can be used by scammers!

So Google found "showmypc.com" and we had a bit of fun while he worked out that I needed to go to the "remote support" option.

And at that point, my computer rebooted.

He was ever so nice about it.

Apparently, I have a really severe problem. He asked me if I'd done this with anyone else. I told him that yes, his colleague who had just passed me on to him (his name is, he said "Shane Peters", ho ho), But he said, no, not just right now, he meant in the last few days. He was thinking that a competing scammer had got in first. "No, I said, no-one".

At that point, I think he needed to think about all this. We have a computer that reboots every time it tries to access a RAT, we can't start it up using "Advanced boot" because of the geography of my power plug, screen, keyboard and phone, and he's invested nearly two hours of his time on me already. Will he give up now?

He told me he'd call back in half an hour or so. Maybe he will, maybe he won't. We'll see. My guess is, he will, because when a scammer like this decides to give up, they usually just hang up without even saying "goodbye".

While I was waiting for the call back, I "1471"ed him. The call was from 00120981155. Google gave nothing on this.

 ...later ...

Yes, he called back, and he's still called "Shane"

So we went to Google, and to "Showmypc.com", then to "View PC", then to "View PC download run". Clicking on that should install the RAT software on my windows computer. Guess what - reboot. So he gave me a long silence - I think he's consulting someone who is more technical than he is. He must feel he's so close ...

So now we tried ctrl-J. and i read out what that said, but that didn't help.

So we tried ctrl-G, and that didn't help either. So he talked me though looking for the RAT in my download folder, but it wasn't there. So he was a bit non-plussed, and went back to his script and gave me a long lecture of meaningless jargon, and reassured me that everything would soon be OK.

And then he told me there would be a one-time charge.

But earlier, he told me that there would be no charge.

So I asked him about that. He clarified,there is no charge. I pay a nominal charge to activate the software coverage. And that covers the ipad, iphone, ipod also!

So, Shane offered me to activate the coverage from his end. Because it's needed to be safe and secure. And there will be a one-time nonimal charge. And I can see what this is working up to, he's going to want my credit card number, and I have a little surprise for him there.

3 years $99, 6 years, $199, lifetime $299.

But I'll probably get a new computer in the next six years, I explained. He particularly recommends six years and lifetime, because the coverage will be extended to any new computer I get! A bargain!!

And it also covers my digital camera. And I get a username and password, which I mustn't share.

So I plumped for six years.

He talked me up to lifetime.

I asked for a discount. "Not a problem", said Shane. He has to clear it with his manager. And since I'm offering to pay loads-o-money and get nothing, guess what! He came down to $199!

"What's that in pounds", I asked. "Canadian dollars" he said. "In UK pounds," I asked. "£99" he said, "for lifetime coverage."

I suggested we reboot the internet connection. He didn't think that would help. And he pressed for me to pay. He wants his £99. Of course he does. Of course he does. I can hear the sound of a saleman salivating, close to closing.

His registration officer is waiting ...

So I told him, "I can get to Ebay, I can get to Facebook, I can get to Paypal ..." I could hear his ears prick up when I said Paypal. "You don't need to give personal information, everything will be safe and secure." Yes, right.

So then he passed me over to the Registration officer. Mark Nicholson. Ho ho ho.

He asked my name "William Hanford", I said. Date of birth 17 March, 1954. I made those up. If they're making up names, I can too. If there's a real person with that name and date of birth, I apologise. I was tempted to be William Nicholson, what a coincidence, but I resisted. Then he asked for my card number.

"I don't have a credit card." "Debit card, then?" "I don't have a debit card".

Mark passed me back to Shane.

"I don't have a credit card." "Debit card, then?" "I don't have a debit card".

"So how do you buy things online?" "I use Paypal". "How do you use Paypal without a credit or debit card?" Oops. I hadn't thought of that one, so I improvised. "I pay Paypal with cash". He accepted it, even though it's complete nonsense. "So how will you pay us?" "I'll pay you with Paypal".

"Where's your nearest post office?" "Four miles away."

"Go to the post office. Tell then you want a Visa or Master prepaid card. Tell them you want £119 " "But you said £99". "I was wrong,""You said £99" "I apologise, it's 119 GBP. Tell them you need to activate the card right now, you need to make a payment"

"Couldn't I pay you with Paypal". "It's not secure" "I'm not bothered about that." "No, go to the post office and get a prepaid card." "OK, I'll do that." "And I'll call you back in 45 minutes." "OK".

It is now 3:45. I'm sure that he's going to call me back, he's so close now!

So, off I go, in a virtual way, to the Post Office.

Sadly, they don't do prepaid cards. Maybe the real ones do, but my imaginary Post Office doesn't. Oh well. I'll get a Postal Order instead. Then all I need is the address to post it to. Ho ho ho.

The second call also came from  00120981155. I dialled that number; I just got silence. So I'll just have to hope that Shane calls back.

... later ... two hours later, 5:45, and Shane hasn't called back.  Maybe he's starting to wonder if maybe I'm too good to be true.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

I want one

 The latest google selfdriving car.

And no accelerator, and no brakes. I want one. Here's why.

I think it'll be a better driver than I am, and I'm really sure that it'll be a better driver than most of the idiots I see on the motorway. They get so close to my back end that they couldn't possibly stop if I have to, they overtake on the wrong side, they get into the wrong lane then swerve into another lane. They take chances that I feel are insane.

And so do I. Every now and then, I do something that, a moment afterwards, I think "Why the hell did I so something so stupid?" So far, I've got away with it.

The last moderately serious accident I had, was when it was dark, and a cow was released by a stupid farmer onto the road. The cow just ran in front of me, and I almost, but didn't quite, see it and stop in time. I hit the cow, dented the car, the cow ran off mooing, so I didn't kill it, and the farmer and I had an intense discussion about whose fault it was.

If the car had been a self-driver, I think it would have seen the cow sooner (radar works well in the dark) and its reactions would definitely have been faster, because it takes the human brain a *long* time to process some new input and make a decision, and then a *long* time to move my foot from accelerator to brake. I think that if I'd been in a computer controlled car, I wouldn't have hit the cow.

So I think that in a self-driving car, I'd be safer. And if everyone else was too, I'd be *much* safer. 

23,660 people were killed or seriously injured on the UK roads in the year ending March 2013. If 1% of that (237) happened on the railways, or airplanes, there would be hysterical calls to shut them down as being grossly unsafe. Yet we accept 23,660. It's insane.

One big issue in a self-driving car is, when it is involved in an accident (and that's sure to happen somehow), is whose fault it is? The driver, maybe, for not taking over the controls at the critical moment? But I don't want the driver to take over the controls at the critical moment, because chances are, he'd do the wrong thing. And I don't want to sit in a driverless car having to be alert all the time in case I need to take over. I want to doze, or read a book. And if there's no steering wheel, no accelerator and no brakes, that suits me fine. And it also means that, whoever is at fault for an accident, it isn't me.

I want one.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Soaked

The weather forecard was for maybe a little light rain, and indeed, that's what I got.

But I still got soaked.

I went up north to Kettering. I like Kettering. It was raining a bit when I got to my start point, so I sat in the car and read a book for a short time. Then the rain stopped, so I got the bike out of the car and got it ready for caching.

The problem was, grass. And all the other vegetation. It was all very wet, and after a few minutes, so was I. And it got worse and worse - the vegetation was up to my hips, and the wetness wicked through my trousers, onto my socks and filled my boots. I now have a pair of boots that will take about a week todry.

I did 31 caches in a loop, then got back to the car. I carry a towel, dry socks and a spare pair of boots, so I changed, had lunch, then relocated to Thrapston where I did another 18 caches.

Once cache was outstanding - it was a road sign, with two large support pillars. Inside one of the pillars, was hidden a rod and line (with hook); inside the other was a plastic duck attached to the cache container.. When I found the rod and line, it was obvious what I had to do, and after a few minutes, I hooked the duck and signed the log.

I used four of my 4S battery packs today, and they worked well. I have one battery pack that is seriously duff, but there's an order from Hobbyking on it's way to me.


Saturday, 24 May 2014

Battery problems

Three of my battery packs (out of seven) are now officially umpty. I opened one of them up to see if I could maybe resolder, or something - I don't think I can. And Hobbyking are out of the hardcase packs I've been using.

The problem is, I think, a loose connection inside the pack. Sometimes it's disconnected. Sometimes it connects, but as soon as I let the bike controller take load from the battery, the battery cuts out. Not good. Maybe I should try a different sort of battery? Not the hardcase?

So I had a bit of a think, and a long tour around their web site, and I've found 8s packs, 4000 mah, for $50, it's a special offer, and I just bought all they had, four of them. I checked my chargers, I have two chargers that can handle 8s. They'll give me slightly less (20% less) than the things I'm using at the moment, at roughly the same price. But the main thing is, they're a different battery, so maybe they won't suffer from the connectivity problem I've been getting with the hardcase packs.

I also bought five 5000mah, 2s batteries, $19 each. I already have 7 such batteries, and I can use four of them to make up an 8s, 5000 mah pack. So, 12 of them means I can make up three such packs.

While I was there, I also thought I'd try out their "Scratch/dent" stuff; apparently, they've been used in a photoshoot, otherwise they're OK. I bought 1 4s and 1 2s, just to see if they're good.

And an assortment of stuff; some 10AWG wire, another balance charger, a meter of red LEDs (I'm not sure what I'll do with those, that's just for fun), as many EC5 connectors as they had in stock (4 pair, but I have 20 pair on their way to me from China). some AA rechargable batteries and a bar clamp tool, for clamping things together, useful for holding things together while the glue sets.

So now, a big parcel will be arriving, some time next week.

Password security

The way that people get your password, is by using the fact that
people cannot remember 100 different passwords. And unimaginative
security people have been telling users "don't write your
password down", because that's what someone told them when they
went on the two-day Security Essentials course.

But security people have rarely said "don't use the same password on
mutliple places", because it's only rather recently that ordinary
users have wanted logins to several dozen places.

And he has understood that he can't use "password" for his password,
or "letmein". He's taken on board that he needs to use something
hard to guess, like qidGR63*n12dskwian

So, Joe K User uses his email address as his username, because why not?
joekuser@gmail.com. And he uses the same password for Ebay, Paypal,
his bank, and every web site that he visits that asks for registration.
He can just about remember qidGR63*n12dskwian; no way could he remember
a hundred passwords like that.

And no-one told him "don't use the same password on
mutliple places".

Username joekuser@gmail.com
Password qidGR63*n12dskwian

Except me. I've been telling people for 25 years, "Use a different password
each time you need one, and remember them by writing them on a
piece of paper, that you carry in your wallet". And I give a few simple ways
to avoid getting a problem if someone steals that paper. Like, for example,
the way I remember my PIN numbers. I write them down, carry the paper
in my wallet, but what I write down is different from the real number
by a fixed amount, so all I need to remember is my fixed amount. I also
have the code for my bike lock. I'm useless at remembering things.

So, one day he logs in to "kittensarecute.com", registers his username
joekuser@gmail.com and password qidGR63*n12dskwian

And looks at all the cute kittens.

But what he doesn't know, is that kittensarecute.com is run by some
Bad People, and the Bad People are building up a list of usernames
and passwords, and they sell them to Other Bad People, who run
through the list on Ebay, or Paypal, and several banks.

And, of course, they get hits. Despite the fact that Ebay, and
Paypal, and the bank, are all using hashing, and salting, and
peppering. And, by the way Joe User's Ebay account is linked to his Paypal
account, so you can see how that goes.

So here's the thing.

Length of password doesn't matter, if you're cracking them this way.
Complexity doesn't matter. Writing them down doesn't matter. The only
thing that matters is to use a different password on each web site.

But.

Ebay can't force you to use a different password from your bank. Because
Ebay doesn't know your bank password, and quite right too.
Paypal can't force you to use a different password from kittensarecute.com

So the answer is user education. And we all know how well that works.
Is there another answer? Sort of.

Web sites could force the user to choose a password that is very likely
to be different from the password that he uses elsewhere. For example,
force the user to have four digits included in his password. Or
force the user to have four letters chosen from [wxyz]. So that when
he chooses the password qidGR63*n12dskwian on kittensarecute.com,
he isn't able to use that password on your web site. Or insist
that the first four characters of the password are capitalised.

Does this solve all password problems? No, it doesn't. But it goes a
long way towards fixing the biggest one.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Manton Meander

Today, I did two circuits; "Manton and back" and "Brooke and back". I had some great views of Rutland Water, and I did 63 caches, including a DNF from last week.

I'm getting battery problems. A few of the batteries are behaving like they have loose connections inside. I think I need to take them apart and try to fix them. I now have four reliable 5AH batteries, and three that are too unreliable to be useful. I'm making do by putting together 4 2s batteries, thereby giving me five battery packs. I'd order more of the 4S batteries that I use, but they're out of stock. "In transit", the web site says.

While I was out, my rear carrier fell apart; that's potentially catastrophic, because that holds the controller and the batteries. The back carrier is held on near the wheel nuts, by a bolt on each side, and one of the bolts has vanished. I think it must have worked loose. I'll fix it this weekend.

At one cache, I came a cropper. I was nearly stopped, when the front wheel went into a deep slope, and I came off the bike. I fell sideways, and banged my head on the ground. I wear a helmet, of course, so no damage done. Ladysolly, on the other hand, fell over yesterday in a car park, and has hurt her wrist; she can barely hold a hand of cards.

I had rather a lot of lifts to do; many stiles en route, so my back is feeling the strain.

And I've eaten the last of the wedding cake.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Eye eye

To The Practice today to have my eye checked.

When I went to the optician a couple of months ago for my routine 2-yearly check, she found that the pressure in my left eye was 39, and that's too high. So I've been on eye-drops for the last six weeks.

Today, the doctor checked me out, and the pressure is down to 24 (right eye 22).  So that's good news. But while the high pressure was there, it did some slight nerve damage to the optic nerve. Not enough to affect my eyesight, I'm glad to say, but it does mean that I have to continue the treatment - one eye drop at night. And, I'm told, optic nerves don't self-repair, so the most I can hope for is that it gets no worse.

I'm used to that - it's the same with my teeth.

They'll check me out again in a couple of months.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Weight report 79

It's been a long time since the last weight report. Too long. And then there was a wedding. Bad.

I'm 16 stone; that's 224 pounds, over 100 kilograms. Bad, bad. That's several pounds more than I had gotten down to.

So, now that the wedding is over, it's back to losing weight, and to do that, I have a cunning plan.

Eat less.

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Wedding

It started on Saturday. Ladysolly and I went down to London, and installed ourselves in the Dorchester, where the reception was to be held. Then we went to the Bridal Suite, where daughter.2 and her bridemaids were gearing up for the great event. Lunch was ordered, but we didn't get to eat until four o'clock, by which time I'd eaten all the chocolate and fruit I could lay my hands on.

Then some more gearing up, then ladysolly and I went for dinner at the Chinese place in the Dorchester.

The Dorchester used to be a great place to have lunch, if you went to the Grill Room, where you got a great lunch for £21, and as much bread as you wanted from a huge variety of breads on the Bread Trolley. Since then, prices appear to have massively increased, and the Grill Room is temporarily closed for revamping, with no published reopening date. And I suspect that when it does open, it will be nothing like as good as it used to be.

After dinner, we went back to the bridal suite, where the excitement was increasing as the wedding got nearer - then everyone turned in to get some sleep for the following day.

I was impressed by our room; the bed was very comfortable, and it was easy to turn off the air conditioning, to achieve silence.

The next day, we were up at 8:30, and it was off to the bridal suite again, for breakfast with daughter.1 and assorted bridesmaids. Future husband had been banished by then, so that when he would see his bride, it would come as a big surprise. Ladysolly and I went into the other room to have a look at the Wedding Dress - I couldn't find it, but then ladysolly explained to me that what I'd thought was a curtain, was actually the dress. And what I thought was another curtain, was the veil.

Then ladysolly and I went back to our room, so that I could assemble her into her dress (more fasteners than a flatpack wardrobe), and then get myself into my trusty old black tie outfit, including a special waistcoat, hired for the occasion from Moss Bros, so that I would match the other menfolk. 

At 2:30, we assembled at the foyer of the Dorchester. I was sent back to the room; I hadn't realised that there was a blue cravat in the package, and a handkerchief; I grabbed those and went downstairs again..

Cravat?

I have to admit that I've never worn a cravat before, and hadn't a clue how to put it on, a problem made worse by the fact that, down in the  Dorchester foyer, there was no mirror. One of the women put it on for me, but apparently (no mirror) that wasn't quite right. Eventually, the photographer stepped in and sorted it out.

A brief word about the photographer. His name is Pascal (and I explained to him the significance of his name to mathematicians and programmers) and I'm sure that he was a great photographer, but as the day trundled on, he turned out to have many additional talents - if you want a fixer-upper at your wedding, hire Pascal.

Out in the street where transport was waiting. I don't know what other people used, but ladysolly, daughter.1 and Father Of The Bride were in a big white Rolls Royce with a pink ribbon. Getting to the synagogue took longer than it should have, on account of traffic, so we arrived 15 minutes late. Luckily, they didn't start without us.

So we installed the bride in a waiting room, where the veil was added and adjusted, and Pascal took lots more pictures. Eventually, we formed ourselves into a procession, and made our way into the synagogue to the chuppah. I filled in the time by marching up and down the aisles of the synagogue, saying hello to the people that I recognised; cousins and suchlike.

I stood to the left of the chuppah (the men's side) with the father of the groom, with the groom inside. On the other side, was the bride, ladysolly and the mother of the groom. And the rabbi, who was wearing a Homburg hat just like mine, This is the hat that I wear at weddings, barmitzvahs and funerals; I've never mastered the art of keeping a yarmulke in place. It looks dramatic, and makes me look like The Godfather, which is probably good, because I am the eldest living Solomon.

The chazan sang, the rabbi did the service, the chazan sang some more. The groom drank wine from a cup, the bride drank from the same cup. I cried a bit. The bride circled the groom seven times (closely followed by ladysolly, because someone had to hold the train), rings were exchanged, promises were made, and the Ketubah was given to the bride, who gave it, temporarily to ladysolly for safekeeping until after the party, who gave it to me, and I put it in my room as soon as I could, hidden in my suitcase. The groom stamped on a glass, completing the ceremony, and everyone shouted "Mazel Tov". Then, while the bride and groom did the necessary stuff to satisfy English law for a marriage, I went round the synagogue shaking hands with everyone I could reach and being told mazel tov.

Outside, the four coaches had arrived to transport the 250 guests back to the Dorchester for the wedding reception. Of course, the more significant players in the drama had cars.

Back at the Dorchester, we first went to a side room for the Official Wedding Photographs, of which there were a great many, including lots of unofficial ones. Eventually, we were able to escape and get into the main hall.

It looked amazing - candles and flowers, flowers and candles. Eventually, I found the Top Table, where sits the bride, groom and both sets of parents, and just as I sat down, the bride and groom made their grand entrance.

This was followed by dancing.

Many of our friends aren't jewish - it takes all sorts - and many of those had never been to a jewish wedding before, so they had never seen a Horah before. The rules are simple. You form a circle, and shuffle round. But inside that circle, various things happen. For example, The groom's father and I did a dance in which we whirled each other round and round, kept going by the angular momentum, fuelled by the joy of a wedding. Michael did a Kazatzka. The groom and his brothers did an energetic gallop. I did a high-kicking solo; I would have done a Kazatzka, because I know I still can, but it would have been bad if my trousers had been unequal to the strain.

Then came the first course. I missed that, because at that point, I started one of the main duties of the Father Of The Bride - I am the host, so I have to go talk to people. There were a couple of dozen tables, 250 guests, and I, eventually, went round each one and spoke to everyone there. It took most of the evening, but I wasn't really hungry, having stoked up over the previous 48 hours, and by now being as high as a kite on adrenaline.

By the end of the evening, I had a considerable hoarseness of the throat, from trying to project my voice above the sound of the band, who seemed to consider it their duty to drown out all other sounds, and had clearly never played at a wedding where people wanted to talk to each other.  A few times, I had to tell the man at the mixer desk to lower the volume. The first time I did that, I was told,"No way, we have to conform to the wishes of the client". So I explained that I was very glad to hear that, and since as Father Of The Bride, and Payer of the Band, I actually was the client, I'd be grateful if they could lower the tone to 70 decibels, and then I had to explain what 70 decibels meant.

Then I was called away, to do the Father Of The Bride speech. People told me that it went very well, and they certainly seemed to laugh a lot, but I'm sure that nearly everyone missed a couple of the jokes, such as the "For an occasion" joke (it's clumsy word construction, unless you say it quickly, slightly slurred, then pause afterwards while people try to work out "did he really say that?"). But that's OK; in both writing and speaking, you should always be willing to have stuff that many people in the audience don't get, because those that do get it appreciate it even more.

With that out of the way, could I relax? No I could not. I had 250 people to talk to, to be wished mazel tov by, and (in one case) be asked if I had any other unmarried daughters, to which I replied "Is he a doctor?" 

Old jewish joke. Woman standing on the side of a lake, she's shouting "Help help, my son the doctor is drowning".

So then, more dancing, including the chair dance. The groom sits on a chair, which is lifted for four strong guests; the bride sits on a chair which is lifted by four more. Angie isn't big, but I was still quite surprised when her chair was lifted by four females. And then the bride and groom are danced around the rooom by the lifters, until eventually everyone is too exhausted to go on, and they're lowered to the ground. In Angie's case, the lowering wasn't quite perfect, and she was tipped out while not quite back to the floor, but luckily by the time that happened, she was very close to the ground and she landed on her feet, no problem.

More food, and more speeches - the loyal toast to the Queen, the toast to the State of Israel, the best man's speech by one of the groom's brothers, and the retort by the groom (including many compliments to the bride); all speeches went very well.

More food.

More dancing.

More drinking.

The cutting of the cake.

The eating of the cake.
 

More food.

More dancing.

More drinking.

By this time, I'd managed to get round all the guests (and to my surprise, some of them remembered me from when we were big in the computer field and asked me stuff about that).

And, eventually, it was 1am, and the  Dorchester staff were hinting subtly that we might start to think about leaving. Then not so subtly.

Ladysolly and I got back to out room, where it took me half an hour to extract her from her dress, and then we went to bed, and tried to sleep. By then I was suffering from an ongoing adrenaline high, and  sore throat, but eventually I nodded off.

The next morning, Mr and Mrs Silver, the two pairs of parents, and most of the bridesmaids, got together for breakfast, followed by packing up and going home.

Truly a most amazeballs wedding.



Video and pictures from the wedding

video